Mast cells: Frequently asked questions
Original question: “Do we really have mast cells in our gums?”
Answer: Yes, I could cite many studies involving mast cells in human gingiva [gums]. Here are two: Barnett's 1973 study [Barnett ML. Mast cells in the epithelial layer of human gingiva. Journal of Ultrastructure Research May 1973; 43(3-4):247–255] and Schwartz and Dibblee's 1975 study [Schwartz J, Dibblee M. The role of IgE in the release of histamine from human gingival mast cells. J Periodontol 1975; 46:171–7].
When gums are inflamed or diseased, the number of mast cells can increase dramatically. Reference [Entin BM, Robinson PJ, et al. Correlation between mast cell count and tissue histamine in inflamed gingiva. Proc Finn Dent Soc 1985; 81:279–83]. ◊
Mast cells are small, and they are scattered throughout your body. However, if you could gather them all together, the total mass of all the mast cells in your body is estimated to be larger than that of your liver! Reference [Selye H. The Mast Cells. Washington, DC: Butterworth; 1965]. ◊
Page last updated: March 20, 2011